Forgive the generalization, but we’re guessing your father probably complained about the number of bags your mother had. While he used the same battered duffle man bag for everything, your mother took up prime real estate at the bottom of the wardrobe with shoppers, handbags, clutches, and weekenders.
Guess what? Mother was right. You need different types of man bags depending on where you’re going, what you’re transporting, and who’s going to see you along the way. The same goes for all accessories, including sneakers and watches. You need a rotation, if not a full-blown collection. Call it a man purse if you must, so long as you heed our advice.
With that in mind, we present the best bags for men to carry home from your next trip to the shops.
Like sneakers and baseball caps, the backpack is one of those once-sloppy afterthoughts that have become considered, coveted purchases in the last decade. It’s the most versatile design on this list, but also the only man bag where you can conceivably buy three and get used to them all.
Depending on your lifestyle, it could be a smart backpack for the business-casual commuter, a rugged companion for weekend pursuits, or a training buddy for your gym kit. Adopted by virtually every style tribe on the planet, your old school bag is officially an all-grown-up men’s bag style: a genuine menswear classic.
For an everyday pack or commuter bag, adjustable air mesh straps will keep things comfortable while anything but the canvas will keep things dry. Look for padding to keep the contents from jamming in your back. Then it’s a case of tailoring the bag to your needs. Leather styles work best for the office, and many come with a laptop sleeve. Going to the gym? You’ll need extra compartments. Getting on the bike? Look for reflective panels.
You can’t roll up to your rented chateau without an obscenely good weekender stowed in the limited boot space of your Jaguar F-Type. Whatever your travel plans, a weekend man bag suggests a man of taste and leisure, not to mention practicality when it comes to packing enough underwear. Perfect for stowing a neat capsule wardrobe and travel essentials, it doesn’t have to live under the bed between trips. At the smaller end of the scale, a duffel or holdall can be used every day as a hybrid work and gym bag.
You’ll find affordable leather options for not much more than $100, but you can spend ten times that figure from designer labels that specialize in leather goods. In the spirit of matching leathers, look for one that matches the shoes or boots you wear most often.
Check the dimensions if you ever intend to use it as hand luggage and if your weekends involve a little more rough and tumble than champagne and caviar, opt for a twill or canvas version from a hardy outdoor brand.
There’s a stereotypical image of a bowler-hat-wearing British gentleman somehow carrying an umbrella, a briefcase, a newspaper, and a smoking pipe all at the same time. Admittedly, it’s a bit of an outdated type of men’s bag. However, his leathery receptacle is still as relevant as ever.
A trusty briefcase is the city worker’s best friend. It’s smart, it’s practical, and if you buy a good one, there’s no reason it can’t last you a lifetime. Besides, nothing ruins that Bond-like aura quite like a bulky backpack slung over the shoulders of your suit jacket, making this sleek alternative the perfect accompaniment to tailoring.
Originally used as a means for lawyers to transport documents to and from the court, briefcases were designed with work in mind. This considered it makes sense to look for something that’s going to match your office attire. Pick a shade of leather that matches your shoes. And whatever you do, keep things simple and slick. In terms of functionality, we’ve largely moved on from bits of paper and fountain pens now, so selecting something with a laptop pocket and ample storage for a charger and hard drive would be well advised.
Until recently the messenger men’s bag was still synonymous with paperboys and sloppy, middle-aged commuters. But designers right now like few things more than taking once-unstylish-but-practical items and making them cool again (see bumbags for further details).
As such, the modern messenger bag keeps its utility but adds some aesthetics. Great for transporting laptops, paperwork, and the odd lunchbox – and keeping your hands free as you do it – you can now tailor this type of bag to your style. From statement branding to normcore commuter, retro sportswear to luxury leather, well, you get the message.
Adjustable straps, buckled fasteners (or at least magnetic closures), plus internal and external pockets should all come as standard in these types of bags. Waxed cotton canvas offers a rugged point of difference from the standard leather, too. Keep the style classic with a fold-over flap or go preppy with the messenger’s second cousin, the satchel.